Round Sponsor: Coopers
Match of the Round
Maitland FC v Weston Workers FC
Cooks Square Park, Saturday 7.30pm
Maitland will look to keep their perfect start to the season going when they host Weston on Saturday night.
The Magpies are flying high at the top of the NPL NNSW table after four rounds. Maitland have four wins from four games including their 3-1 victory over Charlestown Azzurri last weekend.
Some expected the Magpies to suffer a dip on their recent strong seasons after losing a number of experienced players over the summer. But Michael Bolch has managed to get his new-look squad to hit the ground running as they set the pace for the rest of the competition.
Weston meanwhile will look to bounce back from their 2-0 defeat to Broadmeadow Magic on Sunday.
The Bears are in fifth place with two wins and two losses from their opening four matches, with victories over Valentine and Adamstown Rosebud bookended by defeats to Lambton and Magic.
The Hunter Valley clubs have built up a strong rivalry since Maitland’s return to the top flight.
The pair only met once during 2020’s shortened season, with Weston upsetting Maitland 1-0 in round three thanks to Lukas Straker’s goal after James Thompson had been sent off for the Magpies.
Charlestown Azzurri v Edgeworth FC
Lisle Carr Oval, Saturday 2.30pm
Charlestown Azzurri and Edgeworth will be desperate to kick start their campaigns when they meet at Lisle Carr Oval on Saturday.
Azzurri and the Eagles have three points each from the opening four rounds to sit eighth and seventh on the table respectively, though Charlestown have a game in hand following their round one wash out against Valentine.
Charlestown were unfortunate to go down 3-1 to Maitland last time out, conceding three deflected goals having taken a first half lead thanks to Aaron Oppedisano’s stunning volley.
Edgeworth have made a difficult start under new coach Michael Bridges, with the reigning double winners losing three of their opening four matches.
The Eagles have lost by a single goal to Maitland, Lake Macquarie City and then again to Newcastle Olympic on Saturday night, where they saw Jeremy Brockie’s late penalty saved and were unable to break down a 10-man Olympic side in the final 15 minutes.
Charlestown and Edgeworth will be keen to earn the three points to keep themselves within touching distance of the finals places, despite it still being early in the season.
Newcastle Olympic v Lake Macquarie City
Darling Street Oval, Saturday 7.30pm
Newcastle Olympic will look to consolidate their position in the finals places when they host Lake Macquarie City on Saturday night.
Olympic climbed to fourth with a brave 1-0 victory over reigning premiers and champions Edgeworth having been reduced to 10 men for the final 15 minutes.
Goalkeeper Daniel Eisenhauer was among Olympic’s best, making a number of fine stops including saving Jeremy Brockie’s penalty.
Though Olympic may be without player-coach Joel Griffiths for some time after the former A-League star suffered a potentially serious knee injury in the first half.
Olympic will face another tricky test with Lake Macquarie City showing they are a much-improved side in 2021.
Lakes have had arguably the toughest possible opening to the season, facing 2020 grand finalists Edgeworth and Maitland as well as heavyweights Broadmeadow and Lambton.
City showed great resilience to down Edgeworth and earn a point against Magic and only lost by a single goal to the Magpies and Jaffas.
Josh Rufo will be keen for his side to continue their fight for points, with Lakes sixth on four points after the first four rounds.
Adamstown Rosebud v Lambton Jaffas
Adamstown Oval, Sunday 2.30pm
Lambton Jaffas will look to keep the pressure on at the top of the table when they travel to Adamstown Oval to face Adamstown Rosebud on Sunday.
Lambton are third after four rounds, three points behind Maitland.
The Jaffas thrashed Weston in the opening game before falling to Edgeworth, with James Pascoe’s side securing narrow wins over Valentine and Lake Macquarie City in the last fortnight.
They will need to be wary of a young Adamstown side who will be in a positive frame of mind.
Rosebud, who will host their annual ANZAC Day game, will look to make it two wins in a row after earning their first three points of the season last weekend.
Adamstown outlasted Valentine 6-3 thanks to doubles from Kyle Munns and Alex Mulrooney Castellano.
If other results go their way, Adamstown could even find themselves in the top five at the end of the weekend should they upset the Jaffas.
Valentine FC v Broadmeadow Magic
CB Complex, Sunday 2.30pm
Valentine will be desperate to secure their first points of the season when they host Broadmeadow on Sunday.
Adam Hughes’ side have lost their opening three matches and are the only side without a win so far in 2021.
Valentine were brave in defeat against Adamstown last weekend, with the 6-3 score not reflecting the closeness of the match.
Valentine fought hard to stay in the contest, trailing 4-3 as the match approached injury time before Rosebud sealed the result late on.
Broadmeadow meanwhile will be keen to continue their run of three wins in a row to keep the pressure on Maitland at the top of the table.
Damian Zane’s side are second, two points behind the Magpies, having beaten Newcastle Olympic, Charlestown Azzurri and Weston since their opening day draw with Lake Macquarie City.
Magic were professional in securing a 2-0 win over the Bears last Sunday and will again need to avoid complacency to secure the three points against Valentine.